What is Social Media?
My sister asked me this question over the weekend. Well, her exact words were, “What is social media? Is it Facebook and stuff?”
That question was quickly followed by something along the lines of, “In business, why would you want to be poked? I’ve been told I should be on LinkedIn, I don’t want people poking me.”
We were having this conversation whilst driving down for Christmas dinner at my Mum’s. That isn’t a typo. Christmas dinner after Christmas is quite normal in my family. We should get a prize this year for having our family meet up this close to the holiday season!
The whole chat in the car reminded me once again that many people don’t understand what social media is. Perhaps more importantly, how social media and the Internet in general can help their business.
The whole social thing has mushroomed into a concept that is impossible to apply boundaries. Social media is much more than Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn and yet, to many people those sites define the term.
The truth is, any website where you can interact, from clicking like to leaving a comment and more, is social media. The article you are reading now is social – you can comment below or share with your friends and acquaintances online.
Even something as simple as a Google search is going social. Already you can +1 websites and ads without actually visiting the page and Google are experimenting with collecting users emails directly from a search ad. And don’t forget, your search results are personalised based on where you have visited and the websites you and your contacts like and recommend. The whole personalised search is rolling out further on Google now too.
Social media for business is not about poking people or making friends. It’s much more than a Facebook page, Twitter account or even a YouTube channel and the myriad of other sites out there.
It’s about being found online by real people who are interested in your products or services. On a more advanced level, social is giving people the opportunity to interact on a human level with you – a real person (or people) at the other end, not the business or brand.
I love this infographic from Blumentals. It shows how everything you do online, both social and search, should be supporting your core online presence.
Rather than getting bogged down with the whole, “What is social media and do I need to be social?” question, think of it this way:
What tools do I need to get my message across to the right people?
Because it really doesn’t matter what fancy name you give it, social media sites are just tools. Like any other tool it won’t do the job itself, and often you need more than one tool to do the job.
Would you expect a mechanic to fix a car with only a spanner?
Hopefully not. If you did you’d be waiting a long time.
It’s the same online. If you want your business to be found online you do need to use a variety of tools to get your message out. There are so many social tools to choose from.
Twitter, Google Plus, Facebook, LinkedIn, blogging, coupon sites, review sites, video and photo sharing sites, check-in sites, news sharing sites…
Social media can be mind boggling!
Fortunately, there’s no need to try doing all of them at once. You may never use some sites at all.
Not every tool will be the right fit for your business, some are nice to have but not essential to get the job done too. But every business wanting their online presence to work for them does need to start embracing the concept of interaction – social media.
Most of all, remember all this interaction stuff is not about how many fans, likes, followers or even pokes that you get. Yes, they’re nice to have. But chasing numbers for the sake of numbers is pretty pointless and a waste of time, effort and usually money that could be better placed doing the tasks that get your business found online.
You can find out more about how to get started online and how it all pulls together by downloading my free “Get Started Online” guides. Simply put your name and best email address in the blue box below and I’ll whiz the reports over to you.
Social media image from FotoliaWhat Is Social Media? Your Business Needs Interaction Online by Jan Kearney